Is Money a Motivator ?

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Is Money a Motivator?

There are countless articles circulating today instructing managers on how to motivate their employees. Some theories state that all workers are motivated primarily by the need for money; so if you want to get the most out of your workforce, you pay them more. So, is money a motivator?

Motivation is the encouragement to do something.(1) There are short term motivators and there are long term motivators. There are also different levels and sides to motivation. In this article I would like to focus on three theories in particular which discuss motivational needs for an individual and how as a manager you can address them in the work place: The first is Maslow’s need hierarchy which led to McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y and the last theory is Herzberg’s Motivation – Hygiene Theory.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs consists of five levels of needs to be satisfied. This model suggests that as people satisfy needs on one level, they progress to the next level of needs as motivation for their behavior. It is only the unsatisfied needs which can influence behavior, not the satisfied needs. (1)

Under Maslow’s Hierarchy money would be recognized within the safety category (or a base need for behavior). When you have money you feel secure, because you have a resource you need to survive. According to Maslow once that need is fulfilled you move to the next level for motivation. (1) In this case money itself is no longer a motivator because that need has been satisfied.

As a manager, you can use this knowledge to continue to motivate your employees. If they are already satisfied with money, in that it is no longer a primary need, you should move up the pyramid. Work to build the employee’s confidence, respect them, and give the individual projects that drive him/her to satisfy the higher level needs.

Douglas McGregor took the work Maslow did with the hierarchy of needs and grouped it into two theories on how people view human behavior at work and organizational life. McGregor called this Theory X and Theory Y; Theory X is focused on the “lower order” needs and Theory Y focuses on the “higher order” needs identified by Maslow. (4) McGregor suggests that management could use either theory to motivate employees but that the better results would stem from meeting the Theory Y needs. Let us take a closer look at two theories and how money fits into the picture.

Theory X states that management’s role is to coerce and control employees: • People have inherent dislike for work and will avoid it whenever possible. • People must be controlled, directed or threatened in order to achieve. • People prefer to be directed, do not want responsibility and have little ambition. • People seek security above all else. (2)

Theory Y states that management’s role is to develop the potential in employees and help them to release that potential towards common goals. • Work is natural, like play and rest
• People will exercise self direction if they are committed • People learn to accept and seek responsibility
• People have potential(2)

In Maslow’s hierarchy we identified that money falls under safety, or the need for security. McGregor’s theories show security under the X Theory, that above all security is what people seek. If as a manager you run your organization under Theory X, you would agree that money is a motivator for your employees. You would agree, that in order to get the most out of your workforce you should pay them more. If you manage under Theory Y, money may be a part of your business but is not what drives your employees to achieve.

The last theory I would like to look at is Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory. This theory focuses on the factors causing job satisfaction and the factors causing job dissatisfaction, and that they are different. Herzberg called the satisfiers motivators and dissatisfiers hygiene factors. Hygiene factors are...
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